Monday, March 28, 2011

Living with Less

Living with less has been something I've been working my way towards....slowly (OK, very slowly) but surely.  Only increasing our standard of living if it actually costs us the same or less, not just automatically increase with raises (not that Sean has received a raise in 3 years anyway).  At every opportunity reducing our bills, not increasing them, even if it's just a little at a time. So far it hasn't really resulted in less, maybe just smarter, living....but I hope I'm training us to one day be able to easily live with much less.

Then, there is a whole other 'living with less' we're learning about in the Justice Journey our Church is taking us on. Justice has many faces around the world, one of the huge injustices of the world is poverty (did you know just how often the Bible mentions caring for the poor?), and that is a big part of this journey, especially since we have a team who just landed at our Swaziland care point this week. 

Now I, like a lot of other people I'm sure, sends $30 a month to a kid who's picture is on my fridge and think I was doing my part for the world's billions of starving people. The needs of over half the world are just so overwhelming I feel like I can't really make an impact, and my giving the equivalent of 'a coffee per day' is probably more to make myself feel like I am obedient to "for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat."  Then I can feel OK about changing the channel when World Vision commercials came on. Enter *grimace* here.

You've all seen those commercials, or received the emails, with statistics on the distribution of wealth around the earth.  10% of the world has 85% of the world's wealth.  If you live in North America that automatically puts you in that 10% (statistically speaking). That doesn't really seem to mean a lot to us though, especially when we have richer people around us to compare our finances to, there is always someone who has more than us. We park our old cars next to the brand new SUVs at the store, we brown bag it while our co-workers eat out for lunch everyday, we work overtime on long weekends to pay off debt while our neighbor drives their RV out to the lake, we spend our money on house repairs instead of the tropical vacations our friends are on.

But if you are reading this, you have more than 4 billion people, at least.

Pick out 3 people out of the seven in this picture.

Those 3 people represent the fraction of the world living on approximately $2 per day (Sean and I live on $85/day - $42 each - by comparison; no savings, no investing, no fun money, just bills/surviving).

These people are lucky if they have one meal per day, consisting of approximately; 1 cup rice, 1 cup beans, one spice/flavoring, a couple of tablespoons of vegetables, salt, oil, a little flour, and water (maybe clean, maybe not).

Pick out 1 person out of the six in this picture.

That person represents the fraction of the world living on approximately $1 per day. That's on top of the 3/7ths of the world already living on $2 day.  That's 60% of the world living on $2 or less per day!

18,000 children die from starvation every day, that's the death toll from a tsunami every other day.

Now, in a way, this makes my $30/month feel like I'm providing a fortune! I could be increasing their standard of living by 50-100%!  My giving used to feel like a drop in a bucket, however, I've realized a drop in bucket can have a huge splashing impact (5 loaves & 2 fish). But that isn't the point.  The point isn't to make me feel better about how little I I can go on ignoring those commercials.  I won't pretend I've got it all figured out, but here is some of what I HAVE figured out.
The point should be these are people, not numbers.

photo credit - my friend - Doug Rempel, pictured here

The point should be these are people, not charity projects.

photo credit Doug Rempel

The point should be to partner with these people, not throw money their way.

Justice - def'n - everything I long for equally available to everyone (as defined by my pastor, Todd, pictured here).


Lori Klassen said...

Sign me up for one big resounding YES!

Pamela said...

How do you know Doug Rempel?? Conrad used to work with his dad!

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